African Adventure! One AAA member’s recent safari.

Guest Written by Brian Garland, AAA Travel Advisor in Hamden, Connecticut.

Bucket list travel is a common dream for many Americans. Whether it’s tracing your heritage through the birthplace of an ancestor, or finally experiencing a destination that has enchanted you for decades, we all have travel dreams. For one member, Africa was a must.  Connecticut resident and AAA member Gene knew AAA Travel had several opportunities to explore the region. As someone who had booked with AAA before, he knew his local AAA Travel advisor could help him plan his big adventure. Gene had booked a vacation to Costa Rica with the travel agency and was well aware of all the global destinations AAA could help him explore. After a visit to my local branch, and a conversation together, he was well on his way. I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I was so happy when Gene returned and was willing to tell me all about his time away. Like many advisors, we get just as excited as our clients when we plan a trip. It is always rewarding to hear about their experiences.

Like many, Africa was calling to Gene. His good friend Steve had taken his wife Roberta to the continent in 2017. The stories the couple shared, alongside photos and their memories lit a fire under Gene. Spurred on by their adventure, Gene booked his own tour to Africa, arriving before the COVID pandemic. Gene and I built an itinerary that sent him to five countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, and an Island off Tanzania, Zanzibar.

“I was impressed with how meticulous Brian was in making my itinerary.” Gene shared, “I chose AAA for my trip to Africa because of the convenience in placing my booking, along with the peace of mind and confidence I needed. I was also wowed by the various options Brian had to offer.”

Listening to Gene, and fully understanding all he wanted to see and do, we were able to find back to back tours with two travel companies, Member Choice Vacations for a Southern Africa tour, and Club Adventures for an immersive experience through East Africa. Both are AAA preferred providers and offer unique member benefits to AAA members booking travel.

“I can’t say that there was only one highlight. I traveled over 3,000 miles in 30 days” Gene joked when asked to share his favorite moment. It’s easy to understand why.

His trip was filled with multiple magic moments, as he ventured on 9 safaris on a journey that spanned across five countries. His trek even included a visit with a 195-year-old tortoise. Gene also spent time on the water, taking in two sunset cruises. During his time in Zimbabwe, he dined on the Zambezi River, and while in Zanzibar he cast off into the Indian Ocean. There were days spent walking with lions, and others riding elephants. Gene hiked Victoria Falls, and rewarded himself with a scenic helicopter tour of the area. Gene also took to the air by hot air balloon, soaring over the Masai and Serengeti savannas.

“Club Adventures allowed intimate cultural experiences with the Masai people” Gene notes, “It is one adventure that will enlighten you. I took over four thousand photos and am in the process of writing a book to document my adventures.”

His planned sequel will document the South Pacific, another bucket list trip booked we booked together.  2021 will see Gene traveling to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

If Africa has been on your bucket list, I invite you to learn more about traveling to the area. Join AAA and our partners African Travel as we take you LIVE to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa for a sunset game drive. Multiple rangers will be in the bush and tracking animals live. Hosts will provide insights on planning your own safari and will answer questions during this exclusive Zoom event. Registration is required through our online event page.

I encourage you to speak with your AAA Travel advisor about one of your bucket list destinations. You can find your closest agent in our directory, or reach our travel center at 1-800-222-7448.